An ontology is a conceptualization of a domain of information that shows the categories of “things” in the domain and their hierarchical relationships. A controlled vocabulary is a list of entities within each category of an ontology that specifies what each entity is named. Using one or both can help you better organize your data and enhances the interoperability of data sets in repositories with data from multiple sources.
As with metadata standards, ontologies vary across and within disciplines, and you should consult your program director to determine which is best for you. Professional societies and journals may also serve as sources of appropriate ontologies. The list below provides a few aggregators that may help you find or develop your ontology.
|Disciplinary Area||Ontology Example|
|Life Sciences||Bioportal, a search engine for ontologies across various biomedical fields.|
|Biological Sciences||OBO Foundry, listing biology ontologies.|
|Geospatial||Spacial Ontology Community of Practice.|
|Engineering||OntoCAPE, ontology for Computer Aided Process Engineering.|
|Humanities||Ontomedia, ontology for digital narratives.|
|General||Swoogle, search engine for Semantic Web ontologies.|